David Filipov spoke at the Bob Graham Center at UF on Tuesday. He focused on topics such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia and its relations with the United States.

McKenna Beery / Alligator

David Filipov saw the lies. He watched first hand as “fake news” about Russia spread like a disease.

Filipov, 55, a former Moscow Bureau Chief of The Washington Post and a former reporter for The Boston Globe, spoke Tuesday at UF’s Bob Graham Center. About 150 people attended his talk, which focused on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia and its relations with the U.S. He also spoke about how news is being manipulated more than ever.

“It's a big deficit to put ourselves in, to be comparatively under informed about what Russia is, what Russians think, where Russia is going and what Russians want,” Filipov said.

America’s relationship with Russia has been near the top of the news cycle since the 2016 presidential election, he said. However, much of what Americans say about Russia depends on stereotypes, which create myths such as Putin being an “all-powerful evil genius,” he said.

Michael Gorham, a UF Russian studies professor, said he attended graduate school with Filipov and coordinated the speaking event. Gorham said Filipov is an excellent journalist who has studied Russia for more than two decades.

“For budding journalists he is a role model,” Gorham said. “He has insights on Russia that would be beneficial for anyone to hear.”

Several UF organizations sponsored Filipov. He was paid $1,000 for the talk and his travel and boarding expenses were also covered.

Filipov is currently leading a Harvard University research project looking into the facts and allegations behind the Russia investigation.

Ethan Cassidy, a UF history junior, said he attended the talk because of his passion for politics. He said President Donald Trump’s victory made him more susceptible to the idea Russian interference is possible. He wanted to hear Filipov’s thoughts on the matter.

“I was inspired by how he personally knew the Russian people and so deeply connected with their point of view,” the 20-year-old said. “The fact that he knew their point of view from a human standpoint connected with me as I listened to his talk.”